Meet the Author: The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

Today we’re traveling to Beckenham in south east London to chat with Linda MacDonald. She will share with us how alter egos, Dead Poets’ Society, nuisance phone calls, a broken wrist, and perseverance play roles in her life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve always been quirky on the surface, but my feet are firmly rooted. I’ve two alter egos that have played important roles in my life.

Firstly, my fictional twin sister, Lily May, married to a vet in Cumbria whom she used to get fed up with from time to time. On such occasions she would ‘come to stay’ and swap places with me in my science teaching role at a secondary school in Croydon. Lily would begin by telling the class that Miss MacDonald wouldn’t be in today. I never tired of seeing them suddenly jump to attention, aware that something different was about to happen.

I assured them that I, Lily, was also a trained teacher and we would carry on with the syllabus as normal. I used co-ordinates instead of names so I could ask them questions and reprimand if necessary – (this was in the days when the classes sat in rows). There were only certain groups one could do this with as they had to realise it was a game and play along. The younger children loved it. Lily was a bit crazy, often teaching from on top of a desk in the style of Mr. Keating in Dead Poets’ Society.

One Parents’ Evening, I thought I was in trouble. The mother sat down and said, ‘Danielle told me not to mention Lily …’. I panicked inside and said, ‘You must think I’m absolutely mad.’ She said, ‘I think it’s wonderful, you sound just like me!’ Phew!

My other alter ego is Victoria Falls, poet and gossip columnist, who pinned frivolous poems on the Psychology Departmental notice board at Goldsmiths’ where I was studying for my degree, and wrote satirical pieces about the staff in my first place of work.

I’m proud to be a Cumbrian from Cockermouth, on the edge of the Lake District, but I have lived for the past 34 years in leafy Beckenham in south east London. I’m a woman of a certain age, a Libran, a retired teacher of psychology and science and am very concerned for the future of the planet.

In which genre do you write?

Women’s Fiction with more than a smattering of issues related to relationship psychology.

How many published books do you have?

Four stand alone novels which also form a series.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I usually begin writing scenes with conversations that I hear in my head. I then work the narrative around them.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced to help create a scene or plot?

After my dad died, I received a series of nuisance phone calls, often waking me up in the middle of the night. They began with silence on the end of the line but quickly developed into threats and abuse. It was a woman and she would say things like, ‘Why were you ringing his phone at 11.40 at night?’ She clearly believed I was having an affair with her partner.

Once I realised it was a case of mistaken identity, I tried to tell her, but she wouldn’t listen and the abuse and threats became worse. I blocked the number but she used another phone. One night, when she woke me after midnight, I tried again to reason with her and after swearing at me, she hung up. I dialed 1471 and this time she’d forgotten to withhold the number. I called back and was diverted to answerphone.

The message was the voice of a man – a supermarket delivery driver. Then the penny dropped. After my dad’s death, and to coincide with my return home, I had placed an order for a late night delivery which had become stuck in the warehouse and the driver had called me to say it was going to be delivered even later. When it hadn’t arrived by 11.40 p.m., I tried to call back, but there was no answer and I hung up. Needless to say, this time I left a stern message.

There were no more calls. I try to use bad personal experiences in my novels and this one provided the inspiration for the stalking theme in The Alone Alternative. Truth is often stranger than fiction.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

‘Remember you always wanted to change people’s lives with your writing? Don’t give up trying to spread the word about your books.’

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

In 2009, I broke my wrist badly (tripping over a classroom chair) and required an operation to fit a metal plate. This happened on the eve of London’s icy spell, and my operation was delayed for a week by the urgent need to treat people with injuries from falls and RTAs that threatened life or limb. It reminded me of the fragility of our existence, the shortage of time (I was by this time 53) and decided to publish independently my novel Meeting Lydia which I had been writing since 2001.

The wrist break and subsequent stress, followed the next year by the death of my father and yet more illness and stress, led to my having a breakdown in 2011. I was then compelled to take early retirement in 2012, even though I had originally planned to teach at least until I was 58. But for these unwelcome life events I wouldn’t now have 4 books published.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Discipline and perseverance. When I commit to a task and create my own deadlines, I am very good at sticking to my schedule. This is very beneficial to a writer.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on both books 5 and 6, two new standalones which also carry on the lives of some of the characters in my previous books. Book 6 was originally book 5, but has since moved up a slot as I have an idea for a novella that has persisted in telling me it wants to come next. It’s early days, but is beginning to take shape.

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is about the depth of pain and damage that an emotional betrayal causes and the grey area of psychological abuse. It is written in the first person from the perspectives of two women in the life of an artist called Coll who is a womaniser and something of a narcissist. The reader knows exactly what’s going on but both women are kept in the dark until the dramatic dénouement. It’s the fourth standalone novel in a series.

It was incredibly interesting learning more about you, your background, and your writing life. Thank you, Linda for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket – Blurb

Felicity is struggling to detach from her failed marriage. When she meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah.

Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When Coll becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a story of emotional betrayal and mental abuse – never clear-cut and always destructive.

Where to find the book:

It can be found widely online as an eBook and also in paperback.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2pi0nwn

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2BeSvy9

Earlier books in the series may be found here: https://author.to/Lydia

Connect with Linda:

Social Media Links:

https://www.facebook.com/LindaMacDonaldAuthor/

Twitter: @LindaMac1

Author news and reviews at Troubador Publishing: https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/contemporary/the-man-in-the-needlecord-jacket/

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Meet the Author: The Orange Grove by Kate Murdoch

Today we’re traveling to Melbourne, Australia to chat with Kate Murdoch. We’ll talk about how a secret desire, a dream about a vivid character, painting, tenacity, and tarot cards come together as part of Kate’s background and her writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an artist turned writer living in Melbourne, Australia.

In which genre do you write?

I write historical fiction.

How many published books do you have?

Two

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’d always had a secret desire to write a novel and had written stories since I was a child. However, I was swept up in various careers along the way, mainly as a visual artist, but also as a graphic designer. It wasn’t until after my children were born and I had reached a pivotal moment in my art career, that the impetus to finish a novel came. I had a dream about a vivid character and began to write about him. Eight months later I had the first draft of a supernatural thriller. I never looked back.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It would be a couch with a lap desk, looking out to the sea. There would be potted plants around the room, paintings, scented candles and a blazing fire. A small dog would be nuzzled up next to me as I worked.

What are you currently reading?

Imperfect, by Lee Kofman. It’s a book about people who have scars or other imperfections, and how this influences their sense of self, along with the way they interact with the wider world. The author’s honesty and candor, along with her astute observations, make this a wonderful read.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I paint, read, travel, lunch with friends, spend time with my family, and keep up my yoga/pilates/running.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Unlimited time to be creative along with the lack of inhibitions and self-doubt in my creativity. I miss the feeling of unlimited possibilities.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Yes, I do. It’s played out in my life in a number of ways. One example is the fact that I came to writing after a career in painting. I feel that being an artist prepared me, in a much gentler way, for being a writer. In both professions, you have to put yourself on the line, because what you create is so personal. Yet in writing, there’s a lot more self-disclosure surrounding this. In coming to writing later, I had time to win and lose, try and fail and become accustomed to being visible in the arts.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I’m tenacious and determined – I rarely give up when something is important to me. Many things I value in my life have materialized as a result of this trait.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Port Douglas, Queensland. It’s full of intensely-coloured tropical plants, it’s very warm and the people are relaxed and friendly. It has style and also a spiritual heart – you can buy designer clothing, have a reiki session, then amble along Five Mile Beach at sunset, listening to the roar of the waves.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

I taught myself to read tarot cards so that I’d be able to write the tarot reading scenes in The Orange Grove. Initially, I was sceptical, but now use them regularly to guide me.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

I do a number of things because I do feel anxious about public speaking. I meditate, listen to binaural beats and read through my notes at length. I find it’s getting slightly easier and I hope the nerves continue to lessen.

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Orange Grove is about the rivalries and intrigues of mistresses in 18th century France. Henriette d’Augustin lives in the chateau of the Duc d’Amboise with four other mistresses. When the duchesse undermines a new mistress, Henriette is forced to choose between morality and position.

It was wonderful learning more about you Kate. Your ideal reading space sounds nearly identical to mine. I also love that your taught yourself to read tarot cards for The Orange Grove, and that you continue to use them! Thank you for being a part of MTA! –Camilla

Book Blurb for The Orange Grove:

Blois, 1705. The chateau of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue.

Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies.

The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further escalates tensions as rivals in domestic politics and love strive for supremacy.

In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.

Where to find the book:

Available online and in bookstores.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2VEXbqx

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2OL6WlO

Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone CircleShe exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing. In between writing historical fiction, she enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction.

Her short-form fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US and Canada.

Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press December 1st 2017. Stone Circle was a First in Category winner in the Chaucer Awards 2018 for pre-1750’s historical fiction.

Kate has been awarded a KSP Fellowship at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2019 to develop her third novel, The Glasshouse.

Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, was published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.

Connect with Kate:

Website: https://katemurdochauthor.com/

Blog: https://kabiba.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katemurdochauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateMurdoch3

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/katemurdoch73/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katemurdoch2/

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Meet the Author: Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, Courageous Life by Rev. Connie Habash

Today we’re traveling to Menlo Park, California to chat with Connie Habash. We’ll talk about how The Golden State Warriors, being a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, sitting in the garden, and Mount Shasta integrate into Connie’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Rev. Connie L. Habash – a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, yoga teacher, and interfaith minister based in Menlo Park, CA. My new book is Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, and Courageous Life. I lead workshops, trainings, and retreats around the San Francisco Bay Area, and online programs worldwide, in addition to my local counseling practice. Teaching and leading retreats that integrate body, mind, heart, spirit, and nature is my passion!

In which genre do you write?

Spirituality and Self-Help

How many published books do you have?

This is my first!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

It was in the late 1990’s that I had the urge to write – but I knew I wasn’t a great writer. I needed to learn more about how to convey my insights into compelling written word, even though I seemed to have a knack for speaking them. So I undertook a commitment to write every month by starting a monthly newsletter! Almost every month since September of 2000, I have written at least one article, which became my blog. All that practice, together with having a couple awesome writing coaches over the years has nurtured my craft into something I’m proud of.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

Most people would never guess that a “spiritual” person like me would enjoy (American) football and basketball – but I do! I find a lot of inspiration and insight from watching athletes and the cultural rituals of attending games and cheering for teams. In fact, I’m a Golden State Warriors fan, and wrote an article about several spiritual principles that I believe they exemplify.

I think attending sports meets a need we have – to have a common cause, to go through a challenging trial and see someone victorious, and to push past our limitations and allow something greater to emerge from within us. I don’t care for the violence in some of those sports, but I believe that can be changed and we can retain some of the cultural rituals that bring people together through athletics.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I have written in many different spaces – cafés, my daughter’s dance studio, outside in my backyard, in my car, and of course, at my desk in my home office. That and sitting outdoors somewhere in nature are my favorite places for inspiration (but I much prefer when my desk is cleared off!). I like having things of beauty around me, which is part of why being outdoors fills me so much – for my writing, and on all levels.

What are you currently reading?

What the Robin Knows by Jon Young, and Ask and You Shall Receive by Abraham-Hicks

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Collapse into bed! Seriously, though, I love sitting outside in the garden. I watch the birds, listen to their calls, observe other animals, feel the breeze on my skin, and connect with the plants and trees. It renews me and makes me feel connected to the Everything.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

I’d put on Brave by Sara Bareilles. I love that song! It makes me feel joyful and empowered! But usually, I simply sit quietly, say a prayer, and align myself with the Divine. I ask that my thoughts, words, and actions support each person’s highest good, deepest healing, and greatest spiritual transformation. I do this before I see clients and lead groups, too.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Miss? I’m still a kid! 😉 I feel that our child-self is a vital part of who we are, the source of our joy, creativity, spontaneity, and aliveness. So I’m very much in touch with that part of myself. I think the only thing I miss is the lack of pressure, the ability to just play and not have to worry about promoting books or paying bills!

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

Hola, mi amiga! Have you gotten outside to play yet today? Come with me, and let’s slide on some icebergs!

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I always believe that things happen for a reason. But not necessarily a reason ordained by some Being in the sky. I feel that everything in life is an opportunity – one that we chose to learn from or not. It’s up to us to decide the reasons why we experience what we do. What can I learn and how can I grow from this? It may not have happened specifically because of that, but I can bring meaning to whatever arises, and therefore life becomes transformative and beautiful.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I have two favorite places here in the United States, where I live (although there are many others that I love!). One is Mount Shasta – a sacred place in northern California. It’s an extinct volcano with incredible beauty (pristine alpine lakes, springs, and meadows) and powerful spiritual energy. The other is Sedona, Arizona. The stunning red rock formations and the elevated energy also deeply move me. My husband and I recently took our daughter there for the first time in the spring, and she fell in love with it!

Tell us about your most recent book.

It’s very exciting to have my first book out in print! It’s called Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, Courageous Life. It’s for spiritual and highly-sensitive people who, despite all the yoga, prayer, or meditation they might do, still struggle with stress, overwhelm, and anxiety. Spiritual folks are more prone to anxiety and I share why – and more importantly, the 7 keys to releasing it and using stress and anxiety for spiritual awakening!  If you’re interested in my online program based on the book, you can find out more at https://www.AwakeningfromAnxiety.com

Where to find the book:

You can find it on Amazon, or order it at a bookstore near you.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/33kyBhh

UK Amazon:  https://amzn.to/33vsdUL

Connect with Connie:

https://www.AwakeningSelf.com

https://www.facebook.com/AwakeningSelf

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Meet the Author: The Fabulous Life of Patrina Fletcher by Grahame Peace

Today we travel to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire in the UK to chat with Grahame Peace. We’ll talk about how the fashion industry, mental health services, a garden room, a 17th century Manor house, the Balenciaga Museum in Spain, and the Thunderbirds are chapters in the story of Grahame Peace.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Huddersfield in West Yorkshire in the UK in 1958. Historically it was famous as a textile town, but it’s now a University Town, it’s also the birth place of the late Hollywood film star James Mason and the late UK Prime Minster Harold Wilson.

I worked for many years in Mental Health Services, my background is nursing. I retired six years ago, and that’s when I started to write on a full time basis, up to that point most of my writing had been for work reports and academic assignments.

I’ve always had a huge interest in the high end fashion industry, I wanted to make fashion my career, but young working class men from the North of England sadly did not do fashion in the early 1970s when I left school. So I drifted into nursing, but fashion has always been important in my life and it has a way of creeping into my books, in fact, I’ve written two books in a genre I call ‘Fashion Fiction’ and I’m currently working on my third.

In which genre do you write?

My main genre is humour, but as I’ve already said I write what I call ‘Fashion Fiction’, along with paranormal-historical-mysteries, and fantasy, I’ve written a series of books (5 to date) called The Ghost from the Molly-House, the latest book in the series has recently come out on Amazon, The Mystery at Winterburn Manor. In these books I mix historical fact with fantasy.

How many published books do you have?

I have eight books out at the moment on Amazon:

The Beauty Room

The Ghost from the Molly House

The Jasper Claxton Mysteries

The Pluckley Psychic Historical Society

The Psychic Agency

A Journey into Fashion (The Dressing Room)

The Mystery at Winterburn Manor

The Fabulous Life of Patrina Fletcher

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and telling stories, but as I’ve already said, most of my writing have been for work reports and academic assignments, I enjoyed doing them, and thought I had a story to tell, based on my home town of Huddersfield and some of my life experiences, so it all started from there. It’s been a huge learning curve and I’m still learning, I’m sure I’ll never stop learning the craft of writing.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

We do have an office at home, but I have my writing chair in our garden room, you’ll find me there most days working away on a new book or idea. Somedays I might only write a paragraph, while other days I might do six pages. I also do a lot of historical research for my books, which is often very time consuming, it’s amazing how quickly the hours pass once I get engrossed in a new book and project.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the original 1890 version, which I enjoyed. I’m currently reading The Stylist by Rosie Nixon, it has a strong fashion theme and is amusing, I like to be entertained, as a writer I read many different genres of books, but I don’t like anything too dark or violent.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I’m stubborn

I’m a perfectionist

As I get older I cry easily

Where did the idea for your two most recent book come from?

The idea for my new book ‘The Fabulous Life of Patrina Fletcher‘, came as I was writing my book ‘The Psychic Agency‘, which is book four in my ‘Ghost from the Molly-House‘ series. She appears in the tale and I liked her character so much I decided I needed to tell her amusing story, so that’s what I’ve done, it’s in the genre of satire and a Romantic Comedy.

The Mystery at Winterburn Manor is the fifth book in The Ghost from the Molly-House series, the stories are about a time-travelling ghost called Jasper Claxton, he’s great fun and has all sorts of spiritual powers and a wicked sense of humour. Because the books cover different time periods, I’ve developed a different cast of characters, and in this story, I wanted to bring them all together. It’s set in the present day and all starts with a grave covered in strange symbols found in a graveyard in the grounds of a 17th century Manor house in Wiltshire in England, and the story unfolds with quite a few twists and turns.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I like reading, good food and wine, the theatre, art, the cinema, and travelling. Because I like fashion, I’ve visited many couture exhibitions and fashion museums around the world.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

That’s easy it would be with the late Spanish couturier Christobal Balenciaga, he was described as the couturier’s couturier, he was admired by Hubert de Givenchy and Chanel, Dior called him the master of us all. I would want to know all about his life, his inspiration and creative process. I’ve visited the Balenciaga Museum in Spain, I was allowed to have the whole place to myself after it had closed, it was eerie, but amazing. It was a 60 birthday present from my family and I loved it.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I’m not sure I learned anything surprising, other than I love writing and wish I had started doing it much sooner.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

Because I do so much historical research, it’s been an education, but I’ve always liked history. But I’ve also learned a lot about the devil, demons, and the occult! I dread to think what someone might imagine if they looked at my internet search history.

What is the most crazy thing that has ever happened to you?

Well, I worked in Mental Health for 36 years, I don’t wish to sound disrespectful, but there were many, far too many to mention here. I’m grateful for the experience, it taught me a great deal about ‘life’, admittedly it was often a darker side of life, but it made me appreciate many things in my own life, and count my many blessings.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? 

I like the song Sanvean by Sarah Brightman, it’s very spiritual and reminds me of my wonderful late mother Jean who is always with me.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Nothing, I had an unhappy childhood, it’s a time in my life I would never want to revisit, but again it taught me some valuable ‘life’ lessons.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Believe in your self and follow your instincts, my biggest regret in life is that I didn’t fight harder to follow a career in fashion.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I used to like the puppet series Thunderbirds, the super heroes winning the day with all their amazing machines, and I liked the aristocratic Lady Penelope character.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

It would have to be Jasper Claxton, my time travelling ghost, I could travel back in time to any historic place and event and meet the great historic figures.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

It was the documentary ‘Strike a Pose’ about Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour. I’d often wondered what happened to the key dancers from that show. In some ways, I’m sorry to say their lives turned out as I’d expected, they had their ’15 minutes of fame’ and struggled to repeat that moment of success.

What I found really interesting were their fears and insecurities, they were all putting on an act, none of them daring to admit that to each other, it was all fake as one of them says. However, at the end, one of them sums it all up, they were given a great opportunity, what happened after that was down to them, but it was always going to be much harder for them as dancers, than the superstar Madonna who just moved onto the next big thing and greater success. Sadly youth doesn’t last very long, and there’s always some younger or trendy person eagerly waiting in the wings.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I like the up-market historic Town of York, it’s so well preserved going back to the ancient Roman times, it has some original quirky shops, restaurants, and bars, it’s a lovely part of the country with a great atmosphere, and they have wonderful outdoor markets, particularly at Christmas time, it’s like stepping back in time.

What are you currently working on?

I’m now working on my sixth book in my ‘Ghost from the Molly-House‘ series, it’s called ‘The Siren’s Call‘ and is set in 1936 in Cornwall, England, and is about the legend of a mermaid.

I am truly inspired by Grahame, that he is now writing and incorporating his heart’s passion into his books. Beautiful story and interview. Thanks for joining us Grahame! – Camilla

The Fabulous Life of Patrina Fletcher:

Any publicity is better than no publicity – isn’t it? – Welcome to the world of Patrina Fletcher.

Patrina Fletcher loves her job at the Gary Day Celebrity Hair and Beauty Salon in Mayfair London, a place frequented by the rich and famous, well-heeled, and uber stylish, where there’s never a dull moment or fashion faux pas.

When she literally bumps into Simon Fletcher, a young, handsome multi-millionaire playboy, it quickly leads to an invitation to the BAFTA film awards in London, and Patrina suddenly finds herself in all the gossip columns, with invitations to a string of high-profile social events.

She needs help, and she needs it fast, step forward the owner of a cosmetics empire and a high society magazine editor, and before she knows it, everyone wants to know about her fabulous five-star life.

Patrina starts a blog, quickly developing a massive following on social media, which catches the attention of a high-profile TV producer who offers Patrina her own reality TV show. And before you can say ‘haute couture’ her fabulous life captures everyone’s interest. Can Patrina keep her head and feet on the ground? But more importantly, what will she wear?

The Mystery at Winterburn Manor:

A grave covered in strange symbols, in the grounds of a 17th century Manor, what could it mean?

Winterburn Manor is a 17th-century house and one of the oldest Manor houses in England. It has stood empty for over 25 years and is now owned by the famous water-colour artist Elspeth Potter. She has been painstakingly renovating the house for the past four years but has only recently moved into the property, living there alone.

All Elspeth knows about the house’s history is that it was built for the wealthy Evesham family, most of whom are buried in the church graveyard in the grounds of the Manor. The last owner of the house was the famous author Edmund Williams, a specialist in world religions who wrote gruesome horror stories; he’s also buried in the graveyard.

Elspeth doesn’t believe in ghosts but finds it hard to explain what she hears and sees at the Manor. Strange symbols have been etched onto some of the wood panelled walls, and objects and furniture move on their own during the night. The symbols have also been found on Edmund Williams headstone, what could it all mean?

Elspeth is convinced that something evil is lurking at the Manor, and it’s hiding a dark secret. She calls in The Psychic Agency, a group of psychic investigators, and the clock starts ticking as they try to unravel a decades-old mystery before they all become Winterburn Manor’s next victims.

Meet Jasper a time-travelling super-ghost with a sense of humour, in these eerie, historic, amusing, paranormal stories. The Ghost from the Molly-House is a collection of amusing, paranormal-historical-mysteries, which will appeal to fans of antiquity, period detective novels, tales of haunted houses, and all things that go bump in the night. Although this is the fifth book in the series, the novel can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story in its own right.

Grahame Peace’s books can be found worldwide on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Grahame-Peace/e/B00JNA07HE/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Connect with Grahame:

FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/gpeaceauthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Twitter https://twitter.com/GrahamePeace

Website https://www.grahamepeaceauthor.com/homegpeace/search

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/grahamepeaceauthor/?hl=en

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Meet the Author: Fear in the Lakes by Graham Smith

Today we’re traveling to the outskirts of Gretna Green, Scotland to chat with Graham Smith. We’ll talk about how weddings, dialogue tags, Alistair MacLean, getting thrown out of a church, and the Simpsons come together as part of Graham’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a hotel and wedding venue manager on the outskirts of Gretna Green. I’ve been writing for eight years and am a time-served joiner.

In which genre do you write?

I write at the gritty end of crime fiction.

How many published books do you have?

At the time of writing I have twelve books published.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I tossed so many books across the room muttering that I could do better myself that it became time to put my money where my mouth was. Once I started writing, I found that I loved it.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I am not a fan of dialogue tags such as “said”, “asked” or “replied” and to date I have written over a million words without using one.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I’d chose a faithful old lab. Man’s best friend has earned that title for a reason.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It would look like the library in a country house. There’d be a big desk, an internet connection, a radio and a kettle.

What are you currently reading?

Deadland by William Shaw. I’ve only just started it so haven’t yet formed an opinion, but what I have read so far has been excellent.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I enjoy watching football and spending time with my son.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’m lucky enough to have met most of my writing heroes, but I think I would have to choose Alistair MacLean and ask him about the Russian convoys.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I think the answer to this would have to be how wrapped up in the story I get. If I’m writing an argument, my jaw clenches to the point where it physically aches and I can get emotive when I’m putting my characters through emotional distress.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

I once managed to get myself thrown out of a church while conducting research. I got talking to one of the priest’s helpers and they showed me the back rooms of the church and there was a safe that was six foot high by three foot deep and wide. I stupidly asked what they kept in there and the helpers stopped answering my questions and started crowding me out of the door. I realised my faux pas, apologised and left without pressing the matter further.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

I have never kept a journal or diary.

What is the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Becoming an international best-seller despite twice failing my English exams. I have also been quoted on the websites of New York Times best-sellers when reviewing their books which is fantastically cool.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What do you do to prepare yourself?

I would focus on practising reading the passage aloud and making sure I didn’t come across as a terrible public speaker.

What do you miss about being a kid?

The family members who’re sadly no longer still around.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

The Simpsons so I could join Homer for a beer or two at Moes.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

I’d be Jake Boulder, as he’s all the things I’m not. I’d probably do what he does best which is fight for justice.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

It was called Breakers and it was on late at night when my family had gone to bed and I watched it because there wasn’t anything else on and I couldn’t be bothered to go upstairs and get my book. (I really really wish I had made the effort to get the book.)

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

“I bet you’re wondering how I knocked on your door, why I am wearing a sombrero and how I can speak aren’t you? Well, if you tell me who the killer is in Fear in the Lakes, I’ll answer your questions.”

Do you believe things happen for a reason? 

Life is very much about what you make of it. If you have a positive attitude, good things are more likely to happen to you than if you have a negative one.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

These but only if said in a mushy and patronising way.

Who’s a good boy?

Are you a good boy?

You’re a good boy, aren’t you?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I am a workaholic and this really helps me balance writing with my day job and family life.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Home, because there’s nowhere better.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc

It’d be a sunny day, I’d be at a quiet country pub which served great but simple food. I’d be sitting in the beer garden with a good book and the sun on my back.

It was great to learn more about you Graham. Thanks much for being a part of MTA. –Camilla

Book blurb

Detective Beth Young traced the body in her mind… His skull wasn’t harmed and neither was his spine… as if someone wanted him to survive only to experience the utmost suffering.

When Laura Sinclair arrives home, she is horrified to discover her sweet, kind, husband James close to death. But this is no robbery gone wrong. There are over 200 breaks to his bones, each apparently applied carefully, symmetrically, methodically…

Laura insists that James is a man with no enemies. But how much does she know about her husband? And what secrets are hidden in the email account she discovers, filled with cryptic messages?

When two bodies are then pulled from Lake Windermere exhibiting similar injuries – it becomes clear that the killer they are calling the Sculptor is on a mission.

But Detective Beth Young is too. She knows that if she can work out the secrets of James’s past, she has a chance of locating The Sculptor’s next victim… and maybe the killer too.

More about Graham:

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has six books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder. His latest series features DC Beth Young and after the first in the series, Death in the Lakes, was released to critical acclaim, Fear in the Lakes was highly anticipated before its July release.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009.

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Where to find the book:

Fear in the Lakes – https://geni.us/B07RFRDCT7Cover

Connect with Graham:

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor

Twitter
https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972

Website
www.grahamsmithauthor.com

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Meet the Author: Purr-fectly Home by Kimberly Palmucci

Today we welcome Kimberly Palmucci to Meeting the Authors as we travel to New England. We’ll talk about how pink glitter lipstick, ice hockey, shelter pets, being a freelance reporter, and Glacier National Park play a role in Kimberly’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have been described as a walking oxymoron. You will find me at most of my book signings with bold pink glitter lipstick and a Venti Strawberry Acai from Starbucks, but I also play ice hockey and listen to heavy metal music. I play piano, but can’t read music. I was told in journalism school to always remain unbiased when covering a story for the news, but often found myself crying while conducting interviews on heart-breaking stories. I believe we are who we are and should never apologize for being ourselves.

In which genre do you write?

Picture story books and soon, narrative nonfiction!

How many published books do you have?

I currently have three books in the Purr-fectly series published and am working on my next project.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I have always been passionate about helping shelter pets, but truly committed myself to the cause when I adopted my cat, Meesta. He is funny, smart, loving, strong, and perfect in every way—and he has three legs. He was passed up in the shelter simply because he is different, and I was inspired to write my books to share a narrative of positivity about shelter pets and celebrate all the qualities that make us unique and amazing.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

If you looked around my house at all the cat paraphernalia, cat T-shirts, cat jewelry accessories, and cat home décor, you’d assume I would answer “cat” to this question. But my answer, much to everyone’s surprise, is…cat. Quite shocking, I know. I absolutely love cats. They are feisty and independent, but so loving and affectionate (only when they choose to be). I love all animals, but there’s something about receiving love from a cat that is ultra-special—they could be anywhere else they want, doing anything else they want, and yet they choose to spend time with the ones they love. This is how I feel about myself; I’ve reached a point in my life where I feel wildly independent and free, with myself and my career, yet my favorite place to be is with my husband and family.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I am a freelance reporter in addition to being an author, so I spend a majority of my time writing.

When I’m not writing, though, you’ll find me visiting my parents’ shepherd mix puppies, shopping at my new favorite home décor store, reading my brother’s books (he is an author as well), or taking my daily walk down our extremely long dirt driveway through the woods to the mailbox.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

Writing is cathartic for me. I write to express myself and connect readers to narratives of positivity. But the best part of this whole process for me has been when readers share their own stories, or tell me that my books inspired them in any way. I gravitated toward reporting and authorship for the same reason—because I believe we each have beautiful and unique stories to share, and it’s my job to share those stories. I tell all of my readers—you matter, your voice matters, and you can inspire others through your words.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Be you, girl. Your imperfections make you perfect. Don’t spend any time focusing on the negativity in this world; choose kindness and positivity, but be fierce and stand up for yourself when it matters. Be confident and bold in your decisions and love yourself completely. Try to read positive intent in situations; don’t apologize when it’s not necessary. When you find that peace within your own mind, you will begin to attract the kinds of people who constantly build you up and make you the best version of yourself. And leave your eyebrows alone.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

1. Is there anything under the couch that I’ve lost?

2. Would you mind not standing on me at 4:00 a.m. aggressively meowing for food? Or is that non-negotiable?

3. Did it hurt when you fell from Heaven, my purr-fect angel kitties?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Most definitely my sense of humor. My mom thinks I’m the funniest person in the world and laughs at all my jokes. Thanks, mom, you’re the real hero.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

Well, this may be avoiding the question completely, but I would choose a date with my husband, Dominick, any day over a solo date. Don’t get me wrong, I love my “me” time at home with the cats, self-reflecting, and binge watching re-runs of Law and Order: SVU, but I’d still choose him, every time. A perfect date would be: hiking a trail called Scenic Point at Glacier National Park in Montana on a beautiful, sunny day in late June. Temperatures are higher than average, a heat wave bringing a scorching day to the towns below us, but on top of the mountain that sits 7,500 feet above sea level, there’s a crisp breeze that calls for us to pull out the jackets we have stuffed in our bags. Ideal circumstances include just me and him sitting together, no one else around as far as the eye can see, eating snacks, him making me laugh as he always does, looking down at the world around us wondering how it’s possible to feel this free and this in love. He’s my breath of fresh air.

What are you currently working on?

I decided after the Purr-fectly series that I wanted to write something a bit different than picture story books. I absolutely love the lyrical way I am able to write with my picture books, but I have heard so many beautiful stories on my journey from others, specifically animal adoption stories. I am currently writing a narrative nonfiction book that shares a compilation of true and inspirational adoption stories.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My latest published work is Purr-fectly Home, which is the sequel to my first book, Purr-fectly Lucky, and the third book in the Purr-fectly series. The book follows Lucky years after he was adopted…and a new friend who comes into his life! I was inspired to write this story after we adopted our second three-legged cat, Princess. She was initially a shy, timid little girl who had a rough start, but she blossomed within a week into an outgoing, independent, loving member of our family. All she needed was a little love, and Meesta immediately fell in love with her, too. They became best friends almost instantaneously—he even took her on a tour of the house after they first met. I was so inspired by this bond that I had to write a sequel.

I truly loved this interview so very much. Anyone who knows me will understand why. Having a child with a disability, this topic is close to my heart and am deeply moved that Kimberly is raising awareness of differences in our pets. My son, Thomas, and I volunteer at The Nevada Humane Society (which is a no-kill shelter). His favorite section to be? The cats. Thank you Kimberly for being a part of MTA. Here’s wishing you much success! –Camilla

Blurb for Purr-fectly Home:

Lucky is purr-fectly happy with his family in a cozy house in the middle of the woods, but he doesn’t realize something is missing until a new friend comes into his life. Purr-fectly Home is inspired by the true story of Meesta and Princess, two three-legged cats who formed an immediate and inseparable bond. Their adventures together help each of them overcome fears and discover hidden strengths, and their journey proves that anything is possible with a new friend at your side.

Kimberly’s books can be found and purchased on her Amazon author page

Connect with Kimberly:

Instagram and Facebook @kimberlypalmucci

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Meet the Author: Finding Rose by Julie Ryan

Today we welcome Julie Ryan to Meeting the Authors. We’re headed to rural Gloucestershire to talk about what a degree in French Language and Literature, the Greek Isles, chocolate, the local amateur dramatic society, and Robin Hood mean to Julie.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire, England. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and I lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. My spirit enriched, my imagination fired, I started a series of mystery romances; thrillers set in the Greek Isles.

In which genre do you write?

I write the kind of books I enjoy reading. As I love thrillers, romance, mystery and historical novels my books don’t fit neatly into any genre. My first three books have been described as ‘ not quite thrillers, not quite chick-lit’ and my latest book is a historical novel told from a contemporary viewpoint.

How many published books do you have?

Three in the Greek Island Mystery series, a Christmas rom-com and a historical novel.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I’ve always loved cats ever since we got our first pet when I was 10. I adore the big cats too, although not as a pet obviously, so I’d choose a tiger or a leopard for their beauty and grace in the hope that some of that would rub off on me.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

The opposite of my current writing space. At the moment I’m writing this on the edge of the cluttered dining table as I have breakfast. In my dreams, I have my own room overlooking a garden or water and the room is tidy but I’m surrounded by all my books.

What are you currently reading?

Having read ‘Mythos’ by Stephen Fry, I’m just about to start his other book,’Heroes‘. I love anything about Greece, fiction or non-fiction and as this book has been on my TBR shelf for months, I’m really looking forward to it.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I belong to our local amateur dramatic society and when not reading or writing, you’re likely to find me treading the boards in panto! Oh yes, you are! Last year in Robin Hood I had a whale of a time playing the baddie Soothsayer.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’d probably be so overawed my mind would go blank and I’d clam up.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Having my mum cook all my meals and do my washing. Adulting is pretty hard! Seriously though, life seemed much more carefree when I was a kid than it is for kids today.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Worry less, enjoy life more and take every opportunity.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Definitely. As a child, I always wanted to be a writer but as an adult, I’d only ever written a few short stories when I crossed paths with another author who moved into my very small village. She became my mentor, helped me navigate my way through self-publishing and when her job was done, she moved on. I’m convinced we were meant to meet and become friends.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

I’ve just come back from the perfect solo date to an unspoilt part of Crete. There I would wake early without the aid of an alarm to take photos of the most beautiful sunrise from my balcony. Then I’d go back to bed for a couple of hours or read for a while. After a leisurely breakfast, I’d go for a stroll into town enjoying the views and the warm, sunny weather – just perfect in May or September. I’m not a beach person but sitting watching other people is great for plot ideas. With no one to disturb me, I could write to my heart’s content. I’d have dinner in a fish restaurant with a sea view before watching the sunset with a cocktail and counting my blessings.

What are you currently working on?

A new series set around a hotel in Greece.

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘Finding Rose’ tells the story of three estranged sisters who are brought together at their father’s hospital bed. There, they are forced to confront not only the prospect of a life without him but also the secrets of a past that have kept them apart.

Their father, drugged up on morphine, seems to be rambling but could he, in fact, be reliving previous lives as a Tudor monk and as a soldier on the Front in WW1? Struggling to speak he reveals that he has a secret and urges his daughters to ‘Find Rose’. Can the sisters put aside their differences to fulfill his last wish?

I enjoyed learning about your history and writing style Julie! Thanks for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

More About Julie Ryan:

A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and rescue cat. She manages to write a book a year although without their help, she would probably write more quickly. She is a book addict and will soon need either a bigger house for her collection or a new husband!

When not writing or reading or eating chocolate, she can be found treading the boards in the local amateur dramatic society – Oh yes she can!

Where to find the book:

‘Finding Rose’ is available on Amazon as an ebook and a paperback.

UK Amazon

US Amazon

Connect with Julie Ryan:

Twitter @julieryan18
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/julieryanauthor
Blog https://www.allthingsbookie.blogspot.com
https://www.JulieRyanBooks.blogspot.com
http://www.julieryanwriter.com

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Meet the Author: Devil in the Wind by Frank Prem

Today we welcome Frank Prem to Meet the Authors. We’re travelling to Beechworth, in the North East corner of Victoria, Australia to hear what storytelling, Psychiatric Nursing, playing the ukulele, photographs, and the Grampians mean to Frank.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I describe myself as a storytelling poet with a forty year apprenticeship behind me. That’s about how long I’ve been writing my poetry – mostly in an idiosyncratic free verse style, that is part poetry and part storytelling.

I live, together with my wife Leanne, in a pretty little town called Beechworth, in the North East corner of Victoria, Australia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechworth). Beechworth attracts thousands of tourist visitors every year because of its gold mining and bushranging background during the mid to late 1800s. A bushranger is the Australian equivalent of an wild west outlaw, or a highwayman, and we had quite a few around this way, most notably Ned Kelly and the Kelly gang about whom much has been written.

By profession, I’m a Psychiatric Nurse, and have worked across a wide range of roles in Psychiatry though my working career. My next published poetry collection will be a personal memoir of my experience in Psychiatry, tentatively titled – The New Asylum.

In my early days as a poet, I sought out as many opportunities as I could to get my work published, and had a good number of successes, but I grew weary of having my work not accepted, without knowing the reason, so I largely stopped seeking publication, in favour of developing my own writing style and voice, until just three years ago beginning to post my work on a personal creative blog (https://www.frankprem.wordpress.com) and using that as both, an online archive for my work, and as a way of attracting readers to find and engage with my work.

In the six months since December 2018, I have published two collections in book and ebook form. These are:

1. Small Town Kid – a free verse memoir of growing up in a rural setting in Australia in the 1960s and 70s.

2. Devil In The Wind – a free verse poetic rendition of the voices of survivors and victims of the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires we experienced in 2009.

In which genre do you write?

I write almost exclusively in my own free verse poetry form. I write using very little punctuation, and in quite short lines.

As I’ve gone along I’ve developed my approach so that my line breaks and stanza breaks serve as a form of punctuation – encouraging pause and nuance in the reading, and giving a cue for taking a breath.

I don’t often write a line longer than about 4 words in length, these days.

Regardless of genre, though, I believe every piece, long or short, needs to convey a sense of story – beginning, middle and end. This can be a challenge, at times.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I was always a good reader at school and was very engaged with the stories that I read. That interest extended to story writing in English classes at high school as I progressed through the grades.

There was an occasion where, out of sheer laziness, I believe, I decided to cut corners and several hundred words off my assignment by doing it in the form of a poem. Very quickly and very easily.

I was a little dumbstruck to receive a high grade for the work and I think that may have been all the encouragement I needed to set me on the trail of experimenting with poetry as a genre.

I attempted to self publish some of my work in book form quite a few years ago, but the technology wasn’t helpful and the costs were enormous, so nothing much came of the first attempt. Print On Demand technology makes a world of difference to an up and coming poet like myself, but is probably a whole different discussion in its own right.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

For a few years now, I’ve been playing ukulele and singing in a community choir/ensemble, here in Beechworth.

It has always been a delight to me to sing, but until I started playing the uke, I rarely managed to sing in tune. The uke has changed that.

Last Spring we recorded ourselves in a couple of songs that were pasted on Facebook. Readers might enjoy a listen, so I’ll pop in a couple of links to the songs:

Dog and Mob (written by Leanne and myself): https://www.facebook.com/springsingbeechworth/videos/20339179721516/

Boris and Maria – a very short little love song: https://www.facebook.com/springsingbeechworth/videos/765584533788001/UzpfSTEwMDAyNTI1MTY3NTExMzpWSzoxMzkxOTQ3NDE3NjA2NTU1/?q=boris%20and%20maria&epa=SEARCH_BOX

What does your ideal writing space look like?

At the moment it is my dining room and dining table – very impromptu quarters, but I don’t really need all that much.

We’ve begun planning to build a sort of Men’s Shed outside the back door that will become my Writer’s Den, but that is still to happen. I’m looking forward to it because my needs are changing. As I become more ambitious in my writing endeavours, I think dedicated space will be helpful.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I’ve been surprised at something that has become something of a skill for me, which is allowing photographs and other pictorial images to inspire interesting poetry. There is what feels like a kind of empathy that I am able to apply to allow a story to emerge.

Sounds a bit mumbo jumbo, but perhaps I can illustrate with a small poem.

This one was taken from a series of photographs I took while walking through a collectibles barn. I later sat down and wrote the story that each picture suggested.

Voices #15: chill factor

people say
I am cold

my demeanor

my manner

cold

I hardly consider them
worthy
of my time

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

I prepare by reading my material aloud several times in the lead up to a speaking engagement. On the occasion itself, I’m generally a little numb with performance anxiety. It always feels very important to me to present as knowing my material and also my limitations as a presenter, so the audience feels I’m within my range of competence at all times.

Where music is important to me is in the actual writing.

I find I write much better if I can find some music in my head – not a song as such, just music, as I believe that our language is musical and I need to be able to sing my way through the poem, in order to know that it will read well after I put my pen down.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I truly do believe things happen for a reason. I went through a long lifetime, doing the best I could – sometimes ok, sometimes not so good – but it was only after passing through a very low ebb that I met the lady who completes my life.

The whole of my life was spent, I now believe, preparing me to be the man I needed to be from that point on.

As an aside, we met at a poetry open mic session in Melbourne. I was reading my 3 poem set and she sang a song. Life is sweet, sometimes.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

We have a quite wild part of our state named the Grampians (indigenous name – Gariwerd). Strange rock formations, wonderful wildlife and bush. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grampians_National_Park

This area is about a half days travel from where we live and we always find it to be a spiritually uplifting place.

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

My most recent collection is titled Devil In The Wind. This book is a free verse collection of poems that are my interpretation of the voices of survivors and victims of the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires that took place here in Victoria in 2009.

I personally feel that the fires have left my whole State traumatised and that we haven’t psychologically recovered from the experience yet.

I enjoyed learning more about you, your life, and writing style. I also write poetry inspired by photographs, with a bit of twist from your style as mine are using the nature photographs I make. It’s wonderful to meet someone else who has a similar style. The Grampians sound like my kind of place to visit. I look forward to reading your poetry collections Frank! It was a pleasure having you be a part of MTA! –Camilla

Book Trailer:

I also have recently started a YouTube channel which I’ve begun to populate with a few videos of myself reading from Devil In The Wind.

The link to that is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvfW2WowqY1euO-Cj76LDKg

Blurb for Devil In The Wind

Devil In The Wind is an account of catastrophic fire and its immediate aftermath.

In this 21st century, the whole world seems to be on fire. America burns. Europe burns. Greece is reeling after its own tragedy of fire.

And Australia burns, as it has always done, but now so much more fiercely.

In February 2009, wildfires burnt through entire communities, taking 173 lives and injuring hundreds, while destroying thousands of houses and other buildings. Up to 400 fires destroyed 450,000 hectares of forest, native fauna and habitat, livestock and farmland.

In the aftermath of the fires, the voices of people who had lived through the experience — victims, rescuers, and observers — were spoken and were heard.

Devil In The Wind is Frank Prem’s poetic anthology of the personal, and very human, accounts of those who themselves experienced and survived Black Saturday. Poetry writing that interacts directly with readers emotions.

The collection is available in paperback book form at all the good online retailers, and in e-book form through Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

Devil In The Wind (ISBN 978-0-9751442-6-8):

Amazon (Available in all markets): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/097514426X/

Booktopia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/devil-in-the-wind-frank-prem/prod9780975144268.html

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Devil-Wind-Frank-Prem/9780975144268?

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130932330?ean=9780975144268

Small Town Kid (ISBN 978-0-9751442-3-7):

Amazon (Available in all markets): https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07L6114KS

Booktopia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/small-town-kid-frank-prem/prod9780975144237.html

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Small-Town-Kid-Frank-Prem/9780975144237?

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/small-town-kid-frank-prem/1129995806?ean=9780975144237

Connect with Frank:

Author Page: https://FrankPrem.com

Poetry Blog: https://frankprem.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frank_prem

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frankprem2

If it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Founder and Host of Meeting the Authors …

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Meet the Author: Horseshoes & Hand Grenades by S.M. Stevens

Today we welcome S.M. Stevens to Meet the Authors. We’re headed to Massachusetts and New Hampshire to talk about how PR and Marketing, a run of “bad luck”, the #MeToo movement, the Boston zoo, the USS Constitution Museum, and the Jetsons play a role in S.M. Stevens life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a born and bred New Englander, from Maine originally and currently splitting my time between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I have lived in Italy and in the U.K. (twice).

While I love reading all kinds of books, when it comes to writing, I want my stories to be thought-provoking but “accessible” reads. I don’t like it when I can’t figure out what the author intended to say. I’ve read V by Thomas Pynchon twice and still don’t get it…

When I’m not writing fiction, I provide PR and Marketing to solar energy companies.

How many published books do you have?

Five. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades (Women’s Fiction/New Adult) will be released by TouchPoint Press in Sept. 2019. I have self-published a Middle Grade novel for animal lovers, and three Young Adult novels for musical theatre lovers.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

Writing was always the favorite part of my PR and marketing work, but a full-time job and two daughters made trying my hand at fiction unrealistic. Then, in 2009, I broke my pelvis in three places in a horseback riding fall, and was couch-ridden for three months. That injury was the catalyst for the first novel I published.

What is the most crazy thing that has ever happened to you?

I had a run of “bad luck” a few years back. First, I broke my pelvis, as I said above. Almost a year to the day later, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And less than a year after that, my car was rear-ended at high speed on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

But I chose to see myself as lucky. After all, I didn’t get a head injury during the fall from my horse. Surgery and chemotherapy cured my cancer. And I was not severely hurt in the car accident. Plus, it was something of a miracle that my car was pushed across three lanes of traffic without hitting any other vehicles!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I feel quite fortunate that I can write almost anywhere, in any situation. I attribute that to my years as a business writer, when my train of thought was constantly interrupted by phone calls and people stopping in my office. I learned to write in five minute spurts, which came in handy when I was writing my first novels and watching children at the same time!

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

What was your first year of life as a street dog like?

Do you cry incessantly in the car because you’re on sensory overload, or because you’re hot, or for reasons even you can’t explain?

What are you thinking right now?

What are you currently reading?

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham. Not sure how I feel about it yet; I’m about halfway through. But I found it on my bookshelf — I think I bought it during college — and decided it was time to actually read it!

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

The #MeToo movement, when it began in earnest in 2017. As I watched the news coverage of Harvey Weinstein etc., it hit me that society was asking the same questions of workplace sexual harassment victims that it asks of incest victims: Was it partly your fault? Why did you wait so long to speak up? And was it severe enough to really count? I hope that Horseshoes and Hand Grenades answers some of those questions.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

“I know you’ve always wanted to see penguins in the wild. But you best hurry. It’s getting so warm at the South Pole that I need this hat to stay cool. Oh, and can you do something about climate change please?”

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1 – I worked at the zoo in Boston for several years. The highlight of that job was helping move gorillas from sub-par accommodations into a new, multi-acre, indoor/outdoor rainforest exhibit. It was very moving. That scene is actually in my new book.

2 – During a job at the USS Constitution Museum, I worked with National Geographic on a story about the first dry-docking of Old Ironsides in 20 years.

3 – I lived in Italy and commuted to my job in London for seven months so my two dogs wouldn’t have to be put in a kennel in the U.K.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Toni Morrison. I would ask: Do you consciously reach for the poetic/musical language you use in your novels, or do your words just fall onto the page without conscious effort?

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

A tie: The Jetsons, because I loved their futuristic gadgets. Every time a new app or smart phone capability is introduced, I think we’re one step closer to living like the Jetsons. But I also loved The Bugaloos, because they were a band and had wings like fairies.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is, to my knowledge, the first story with a #MeToo theme that features women in their 20s. Plenty of YA novels introduce girls to sexual assault-related topics. I don’t know why more novels don’t focus on young women starting out in the workforce, because that’s when we first experience the corporate hierarchies and power plays that lead to harassment.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

Fragile but practical 22-year-old Shelby Stewart is damn sure “mild” childhood sexual abuse by her stepfather—a respected teacher and revered coach—didn’t change her. She succeeds at her new PR job in 1980s Boston but sucks at romance, sabotaging relationships with men her friends insist are not good enough for her.

Shelby’s co-worker, ambitious and confident Astrid Ericcson, says she wrote the book on How to Get Ahead by Flirting. But when her boss’s innuendoes escalate to not-so-subtle touching and under-the-table footsie, she finds both her career and her safety at risk.

Together, the women build their careers, friendships and romances while facing their respective demons.

I’d like to add that, despite the heavy themes, my early reviewers tell me the book is entertaining, funny and a “safe” place to deal with sexual trauma. Another great compliment came from a reviewer who said the book inspired her to tell her husband about a workplace incident she’d been keeping secret. I hope this book inspires more such conversations!

This was a deeply meaningful interview to host as I am part of the #MeToo movement (although not in a workplace setting). I had always mistakenly thought if I ignored what happened and just “forgot” about it; it would go away. Which means I never truly processed and felt the wide range of emotions concerning what happened. I never shared as I was ashamed, thought I had done something wrong, and feared getting into trouble (at the time).

I spent 2017 and some of 2018 allowing myself to process, feel, and let go of much from my childhood, young adult, and teenage years, including the #metoo incidences. I’ve pretty much processed and felt what I needed to feel at this point. I am grateful to see this book be published as it may assist those who are still in need of healing.

I would love to join the coffee date with Toni Morrison too!! Thank you S.M. Stevens for joining us. It has been a pleasure! – Camilla

Blurb:

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades touches on #MeToo subjects, wherein women reach new highs and lows in life, work, and romance, while struggling to make sense of the abusive relationships that haunt them.

Where to find the book:

US Amavon: https://amzn.to/2m4Mosh

UK Amavon: https://amzn.to/2m50rOv

TouchPoint Press: http://bit.ly/2K8nMYY

Connect with S.M. Stevens:

Website/Blog: https://authorsmstevens.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSMStevens/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SMStevens17

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/s.m.stevens/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/s-m-stevens/

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Founder and Host of Meeting the Authors …

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Meet the Author: Embracing Life After Loss by Allen Klein

Today we welcome Allen Klein as we travel to San Francisco, California to learn how short poems, a messy desk, gardening, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and New York City are part of Allen’s past and current life. Call upon your inner Jollytologist®, we’re gonna be more playful with this one ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in a Victorian house in San Francisco where I write books that show readers how to use humor and positive thinking to deal with not-so-funny stuff. In addition, I am an award-winning professional speaker as well as a TEDx presenter and blogger on happiness. Comedian Jerry Lewis has said, “Allen Klein is a noble and vital force watching over the human condition.”

In which genre do you write?

Non-fiction / Self-Help / Inspiration

How many published books do you have?

Twenty-Eight (28)

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I used to write short poems in grade school, so I suppose my writing started there, but my real writing started when I had a passion to write about how humor helped me get through the loss of my wife when she was 34-years-old.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

Sometimes I put things that interest in a folder, never knowing if I will ever use them again. When the folder gets real fat, I use those articles and notes to write something about that subject.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Messy desk, computer on it, me facing the wall to avoid distractions. Sometimes ear-plugs to avoid outside noises.

What are you currently reading?

The Energy Code. It has a lot of what I’ve believed in for years…that we are all energy, all connected.

It is very much aligned to the principles taught by Unity, which is a worldwide new-thought spiritual organization and which is my spiritual home.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Walk my dog, garden.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Woody Allen. I love his quirkiness and wonder if that is his persona or is he really that nutty and neurotic. I’d want to know if he was happy.

What is the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Although it has happened to me so many times, I probably should not be so surprised by it now, but I am. I have been able to create amazing things in my life, things that many might call mini-miracles. Some of them are:

-Wanting to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and getting to do so.

-Drawing pictures of Victorian houses and getting one when I moved to San Francisco.

-Having no place to stay when I vacationed in New York City and being offered a free apartment when I go there each year.

-Having a division of my publisher close their doors, thus stop publishing my books, and finding the ideal one by affirming “The perfect publisher will find me.”

-Adding that I wanted to do a TEDx talk in January to my bucket list and being asked to do one the following month.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I was a very serious kid, so I don’t miss much. I try to make up for it now by being more playful and having more fun. And also helping people to get more laughter and joy in their life. I’ve branded myself a Jollytologist®, so now I’m forced to come up with jolly stuff.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

Since the publisher of my first book, The Healing Power of Humor, is now part of the Penguin publishing empire, the penguin is there to tell me that my book will be made into a major motion picture and to hand me the million-dollar advance. The sombrero is a fun way to indicate that the movie will be made in Mexico.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Definitely. My wife died at a very young age. I certainly didn’t want that to happen but her wonderful sense of humor, even during her illness, lead me to investigate the therapeutic value of humor, even in loss. As a result, I started writing about it. My first book, The Healing Power of Humor, is now the quintessential book in the field and has helped scores of people. I know there was a reason why my wife was in my life and why her death was instrumental for me, and as a result of my writing, to so many others too.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

I’d ask my dog, what it’s like to be a dog, how does she handle never knowing exactly when I’ll return after I’ve left the house, how did she get so cute?

Tell us about your most recent books.

Two most recent books are:

Embracing Life After Loss, and Positive Thoughts for Troubling Times

Thank you Allen for joining us on MTA! It was great to learn more about you and your books. –Camilla

Embracing Life After Loss

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things you can deal with in life whether it is a spouse, a parent, a child, or a friend. Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, Jollytologist® Allen Klein knows how it feels—just like you, he’s lost loved ones. Inspired by Klein’s experience with the loss of his wife, Embracing Life after Loss will help you recover from grief and loss—just like author Allen Klein did. You never forget the people you lose. But you can grow stronger, wiser, and more appreciative of life as you move forward. And, believe it or not, you can even laugh again. Embracing Life after Loss will show you how to navigate the difficult times—how to take a break from the pain of your loss and find joy in life again.

Available on Amazon in both hardcopy and Kindle.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2lbzisT

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2mkTw3q

Positive Thoughts for Troubling Times

The words in this book are the prescription you need for a daily dose of the positive. Words can warm our hearts and fire us up or clam us down when we are worried and stressed.

The inspired ideas and power thoughts in this book will provide you with hope, a renewed spirit, and a new perspective in which to view our worrisome times.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2mKu1sP

Connect with Allen Klein:

AllenKlein.com

Social media links:

Facebook: facebook.com/allen.klein

Twitter: @allenklein

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/allenklein

Instagram:  allenklein22

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

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